Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment
Earlier this month, self-harm made headlines due to the now-infamous “Cut for Bieber” movement. It all started when TMZ posted pictures of pop-star Justin Bieber smoking something that may or may not have been marijuana. Online practical jokers jumped on the story and suggested that fans start a “Cut for Bieber” campaign to persuade the star to stop using drugs. (For those that don’t know, “cutting” involves self-mutilation, often with razor blades, and generally along the wrists or forearms.) Some legitimate fans heard about it and started posting photos on social media of wounds they had inflicted on themselves. The photos have been “liked” and “shared” thousands of times. Many are outraged and say that this prank undermines the real emotional issues behind cutting and self-harm.
Cutting and Self-Harm: Is it suicide?
Cutting and self-harm is not a suicide attempt, even though it can sometimes be an unintended consequence. Cutting is a form of self-abuse. The person is literally making small cuts on his or her body. Self-harm generally starts in the early teen years and can persist for years. It becomes a way of dealing with emotional pain. For cutters, self-injury is a way of coping with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness and rage. Cutting can release endorphins, much like addictive drugs, that create a feel-good feeling.
Cutting and Self-Harm: What does it mean?
Self-harm refers to anything a person does to intentionally injure themselves. Cutting is a specific form of self-harm. Here are the common ways that people engage in self harm:
- Cutting or severely scratching skin
- Burning or scalding
- Hitting oneself
- Throwing body against walls or hard objects
- Punching things
- Sticking objects into the skin
- Picking scabs or otherwise preventing wounds from healing
- Swallowing poisonous substances
- Putting oneself in harm’s way by driving recklessly, drinking heavily and/or taking too many drugs, or having unsafe sex
Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning signs?
Clothing can often hide physical injuries, so cutting and self-harm can be hard to detect. Here are some warning signs you can look out for.
- Unexplained wounds or scars
- Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding
- Sharp objects or cutting instruments
- Frequent “accidents”
- Covering up with long sleeves and long pants, even in warm weather
Cutting and Self-Harm: Who’s cutting?
According to parenting.org :
- 79 percent of self-injury callers are under 18
- 9 percent of self-injury callers are between 19 and 23
- 85 percent of self-injury callers are female
- Females who are 18 or younger make up 67 percent of all self-injury callers
Cutting and Self-Harm: Treatment
Cutting and self-harm usually covers up an underlying emotional or psychological problem. Many people who self-harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or a previous trauma. Often, the self-harm is used to cope with negative feelings and emotions. Therapy can be very beneficial to those who self-harm. A qualified therapist or psychiatrist can determine whether or not the patient has an underlying mental health disorder. Also, therapy provides a venue in which a person engaging in cutting or self-harm can explore past trauma. Although Abuse during childhood and bereavement are common social factors in cutters. Substance abuse is also highly associated with self-harming behavior. Alcohol is a factor in over half of all self-harm presentations at hospitals. Therapy is also a good place to learn more constructive means of dealing with emotional or psychological distress.
If your loved one is in need of drug and alcohol addiction treatment and has symptoms of self-harm please give us a call at 800-951-6135.